Monday, June 30, 2008

Best Fish Head Curry...Makan Makan in Alor Star

Good food is often found in all kinds of places. Well, to many Alor Starians, this is one place to go for a good fish head curry experience. These are flats located off Jln Langgar. It's not the nicest flats around and surroundings aren't exactly well kept but they're home to a few hundred people. The flats themselves are rather cramped. Not too long ago, Hannah Yeoh highlighted the plight of the Angsana Flats dwellers. Well, the conditions here aren't that great either. You can read more about the flats below here. Anyway, one of the restaurants operating under these flats serves really good fish head curry.
On some Fridays we go out for dinner with the Lohs....minus the 2 boys since they have youth fellowship meeting. Last Friday, we decided to have a go at the famous fish head curry here. It was almost 8.00 p.m. when we arrived.
And the place was already quite full. People were tucking in their dinner. Usually it'd be quite difficult to get a table but we were quite lucky this time. There were 2 tables still empty. We sat there for a while until another table near the fan became available. The latter was a more comfortable spot.
Service is very prompt. The proprietor was very nice even though her hands (and ears) were full. You can actually call in your order before you go. So the first question she asked us was whether we had called in, which we did not. She was constantly answering her mobile as we tried to order our food. But that did not mean poor service from her. She was helpful all with our orders. We've been there quite a few times. If you order too much, she will try to cut down for you. No wastage! Very good of her to do that. Within a short time, our orders arrived...we had cuttle fish fried with ginger, deep fried squid, egg omelette, a green vegetable dish and
of course the fish head curry. The fish head curry is actually a meal by itself. Apart from the fish head (we ordered a medium sized one), there is a generous helping of okra and cucumber in it. And instead of using coconut milk, they use evaporated milk. So it is actually not that 'rich'.
Dinner here is always good. The cook is consistent with his cooking, the service is quite prompt and friendly. For all that, the meal for 7 of us came up to RM73++, drinks included. It's a rather fair price, I would say.

That night, there was this forlorn looking baby bird caught by the owner's daughter. Poor fella was 'caged' up in this basket!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lesson from Zimbabwe...

A short article from the World News section of The Star about Zimbabwe caught my eye yesterday morning. What was it about? Runaway inflation! And why? Cos that's something many of us can identify with now. This is a land where all her people are either millionaires, billionaires or trillionaires. But that is where the joy of being ‘so rich’ ends. A loaf of bread now costs Z$1 billion! That is roughly around USD$5 for now. If that is not crazy, I don't know what is! Bread is the barometer of inflation there! Nobody really knows how much that is worth in USD because it fluctuates everyday. Big time! And it's a rare commodity there!

An illustration of the worth of these millions. The lowest paid civil servant earns about Z$1.5 million monthly. That can only buy you 2kg of beef. A junior doctor, as of October 2007 earned about Z$6 million per month. But salaries are raised so often because the workers keep falling below the poverty line. I don't know what the salary scale is now cos salaries are so fluid there. And the government of Zimbabwe solves this problem by printing more money….sounds very much like the Japanese occupiers of Malaya back in the early 1940s, huh? Zimbabwe has their very own ‘banana money’.I am fascinated by what I have read about Zimbabwe. Together with Zambia, they were once known as Rhodesia, it was one of the lands explored by Cecil Rhodes, the founder of the famed De Beers and also the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

This is the famed Victoria Falls.....as a kid I used to read stories related to its discovery by David Livingstone. Used to be enthralled and even inspired by it. It is in Zimbabwe.
Gained independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has transformed from a breadbasket to a basket case. Robert Mugabe has been the only President Zimbabweans have known. He came to power after gaining independence from the Brits. He is 84 years old this year and is still clinging on to power. In March this year he lost the general election but he refused to let go. Instead he forced another election on Friday in which he was the sole presidential candidate. Voter turnout was low. The people doomed! And he is in power not because his people adore him but because he feels he is their hope.

But from a beacon of hope, he has brought Zimbabwe to ruins. And he did it in just 20 years. By the year 2000, Zimbabwe was an ailing country, marked by hyperinflation. At last count it was 2 million percent! Despite the hardship suffered by his people, he has recently built himself a 25-room mansion. Today, it is a pariah state shun by the world, her people going through economic sufferings untold.

Wealth can be exhausted. In the hands of good and capable leaders, it will grow. In leaders such as Robert Mugabe, we can see for ourselves how destructive it can be and also how helpless people can be. Malaysia is a blessed country. We have so many natural resources…but resources are only as good as those who are entrusted with it. We have wasted so much and lost so much. Whole generations of Malaysians have been brought up on this wealth, yet not able to compete globally. Zimbabwe has proven that any country can go to the dogs, all you need are just lousy leaders.... My two sen for this morning…

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bill Gates retires...

Bill Gates has retired from Microsoft! He is going to concentrate on his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation! Would be exciting to see whether he is able to bring his wizardry to it. At 52, he is still considered young. And to want to make a difference, I salute him. Would he be able to make the same sort of difference as a philanthropist as he did with Microsoft? Would be interesting to watch.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Xantana...Makan Makan in Alor Star

Another Thursday night of trying out something new. This time, Ling suggested that we try Xantana. It's located somewhere in Jalan Putra, behind the former Sentosa Supermarket, right opposite the Grand Crystal Hotel. Got there at around 7.45 p.m. and the place was quite empty. We could take our pick of seats inside. Noticed that the restaurant has expanded. It has taken over the next door shop, which used to be a Thai restaurant.
Looks like there're more outlets with the not so standard decor (by Alor Star standard) now. Proprietors are making more effort to create an ambience. But this not a restaurant serving western food only. Noticed that they have another 'stall' operating outside. The in-house restaurant served mainly drinks and other deserts. They had beef soup kuey teow, something which we usually don't get from the hawker centres. So, I ordered it.
Wasn't too bad but not it's not the best I've taken. Still, I know where to go now if I suddenly want to eat 'gu-bak' kuey teow. 8)
The 'kids' ordered the usual western food. Young people and their penchant for such food. The portions are quite ok. Lil Rainbow had fish and chips (lately she's crazy about that) and I must say that the fish looked quite nice and meaty. But this time we ordered other stuff too since everyone was quite game to try other things. We had seafood tomyam. The kids say it is a bit too hot but I found it ok. It had mee hoon and maggi mee to go along with.
Then we had baked 'kepah'. The taste of wine is quite strong but it was nice. You can't go very wrong with kepah. The black dish beside it is ikan bakar. No, it's not charred. That's how they prepare ikan bakar here. This is a garoupa and it actually tasted quite nice. The boys finished most of it.
Overall, food was okay. It was fun to hang out and catch up a bit...and at the same time pass comment on whatever that came into view and mind....the waitress, school, basically your regular everything under the moon that night! Come to think of it, there was no moon yesterday night cos it was quite cloudy. By the time we left, it had started to drizzle!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

One good reason to get a Dell..

Other half bought a Dell XPS almost a year ago. Recently its display started to give problems, instead of your usual work screen, it started to rain lines. Twas irritating given the fact that the laptop was barely a year old.

Called up their service centre...and the technician took other half through the standard troubleshooting over the phone stuff. Problem not resolved and it became obvious to them that there was something wrong with the graphics display card, hence the need to replace the motherboard.

The technician was not available to come the next day but made appointment for the day after that. True to their word, he showed up. Spent the next 2 hours or so at the office and changed the motherboard. The XPS is now functioning normally again. Good thing we still had 70 odd days of warranty on it. But the service is good and prompt. Had it been other brands, we would have to send them back to the shop and wait for them to send to the manufacturer and that would have meant days if not weeks of waiting. So, thumbs up for Dell. Sure saved us lots of time.

For those parents who are looking to buy a laptop for their children who are going away to further their studies, I think this facility provided by Dell makes their laptop worth a second look. Extend your Dell Care Pr to 3 years (for the duration of the course) and if the laptop gives problems, you also get less headache....kids won't be chasing parents with cries that they need a laptop for their assignments (when it may just be they miss their computer games!!)...

Price of rice expected to come down...

Read this latest report about the prices of rice... Singapore expects rice to be cheaper in the coming months. Thailand is expecting a bumper crop. And they expect that the price should drop by 18% by year end....maybe translate to about a drop of RM2 per kg for fragrant rice.


Related post:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Penang to pay for voting Opposition

For those states who voted the Opposition in, the punishments are slowly coming in...
  • Fewer Penangites have been accepted into USM after the elections.
  • YBs, not allowed to be invited to functions in Federal buildings.
  • Pics of MBs not allowed in Federal buildings in PKR controlled states.
  • Kedah resorting to logging as they have no more funds. Federal funding running dry?
  • The government is postponing two major projects in Penang - the RM2 billion monorail and RM1.5 billion Penang Outer Ring Road (Porr).
And the list is growing longer by the day.... but is this going to win people over or make them even more resolute to stay with the Opposition. It didn't work with the Kelantanese..

Oil and food prices....

Speculation is rife in our modern world. Blame technology for fanning it. Yesterday, it seems drivers in many cities were fuming cos rumours were going round about petrol stations shutting their pumps for 3 days. Someone in KK called me to check whether there were queues at the petrol stations in Alor Star cos it seemed KK had come to a standstill at the petrol stations. Technology....boon and bane! Remember the financial crisis of the late 90s? In part speculation, fueled by greed and made possible by technology was to be blamed also.

Take a walk down the supermarket aisles. Prices of food is yo-yoing. Take the Sunkist Orange Juice..about 2 weeks back I was shocked to find that it had gone up to RM8.20 per pack. So, I told myself that I was not going to buy it. The following week, I was at Tesco and saw that the price was RM6++. And the shelf was almost empty! A couple of days later, it was RM5.95! And the shelves were also empty! That's how the prices of goods have been....fluctuating up and down, in the process creating jittery consumers! But it has made me a more discerning consumer now.

How can food suddenly become so scarce? I remember the US burning their excess wheat production some time ago. That caused so much indignance cos there were many countries facing food problems even back then. Now, we are constantly reminded of why there is a food shortage, etc, etc.

I can't help but wonder whether most of it is caused by speculation and greed in certain quarters out to make a quick buck. What is there to stop a company or those who are in control to increase prices so that they can make more? At the end of the day, we who are in the bottom of the food chain pay the most.

Still, we should do something. For me, I shall stop or reduce my purchase of food stuff with those mad prices. I think if all of us do that we will also be helping to lower the demand. Hopefully that will allow the basic principles of demand-supply to kick in and eventually bring us back to a more sane world.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Price Hike Policies - Support for the Gahmen

From The Star...BN Gets Motion Passed With Big Majority. Well, this is supposed to be our PM's test of his gahmen. Whether or not this gets passed, or that the people agree or disagree, prices of essentials are heading upwards. That I think everyone agrees and is what worries us. What is important is how they are going to manage it or how they are going to make it less painful for your man-on-the-street. Macro managing the economy affects the micro managing at individual levels.

I was just in the supermarket over the weekend. And one of the items I bought was butter. It's been a few weeks (or is it months?) since my last purchase and to my horror a 250g of butter now costs anywhere from RM7.50 to RM13. I thought my butter used to cost around RM5 before this.

Look around...everyone has a story to tell...and all point to one direction. Prices of essentials have gone up and still rising. Apart from the cash rebate for vehicle owners and reduction of road tax, there is very little concrete for us to stand on. All other ground is sinking ground now. Come July, electricity tariff will be up. A couple of days ago, paper products went up. Books are going to cost more!

The increase cannot be helped. Demand outstripping supply, the rule of the rich, the role of the speculators all can't be discounted. But I think the gahmen is not doing enough to cushion it. Petrol goes up but our public transportation system is in a pitiful condition. 10 years ago, when I first moved into the taman, we had public buses plying into it...don't know when they stopped but have not seen a bus here for years. If you asked the bus company, the answer is probably it's not profitable. Once profitable small bus companies have all been taken over by bigger players, often these are your regular well connected persons, and instead of getting better services, it's been the opposite....like everything else in this once Bolehland.....That is why only about 20% of our people use the public transport as compared to 50-70% in advance countries.

So, the gahmen passed its first test of confidence, so they say...passed the motion by an overwhelming majority. The term "pass motion" is often used in Asian countries such as India, Singapore and Malaysia to refer to an activity that people do in the toilet to pass out the food from their stomach after taking their meals (a bowel habit). So looks like we are on the receiving end here. On a tree full of monkeys...the monkeys at the bottom take the most shit...and that is where most of us are, right now! Sitting there and taking in a whole load of shit!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Politicians...no-no as role models???

Ever since the political tsunami of the recent general election, certain things have changed. Where I am, the photo of the MB is not allowed in federal government buildings...and that covers the schools. Personally, I think it is not a big deal. It's just a photo.

Do you know that this is Kedah's MB? I don't. And I think many of us can't even tell who's who to begin with and the photos just don't make any difference. I can't really remember clearly how the previous MB looks like. So if he were to walk down the street, don't think so I would know it's him, past and present.

But that's not the matter here. Before the new state government took over, the photo of the MB was supposed to be up there, together with that of the PM, Sultan (Yang Dipertua) and Sultanah. Then the BA won...as did they in Perak, Selangor and Penang (Kelantan was already out in the first place). And suddenly, the photos of the new MBs are a no-no. It's such a trivial matter and yet our politicians, make a big deal out of it.

Then there is this post by Hannah Yeoh about how she has been banned from her alma mater's prefect reunion. All because she is now a YB. And she was her former head prefect, some more!

Okay, directives should be followed but the event was to be held outside school premises. But this is one silly one, if anything is to go by. Shows the authority to be so petty! Her appearance would mean the cancellation of the event, the prefects sacked and teachers to face actions. Sheesh!! I supposed YBs do not make good role models then? I thought students should be given the opportunity to interact with the politicians, many of whom I believe will be good role models. (There are not so good ones, also, of course. LOL!) I think Hannah is a good role model. She's young, idealistic and her heart is in the right place. We need more people like her for the young people to emulate.

Such is the state of our country now. We dwell on trivialities! And we are teaching our young minds not to play fair. Lose means cannot invite our rivals. What with the nilai-nilai murni that we are supposed to espouse or have?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Math and Science...to continue or not to continue (1)

There has been a lot of talk going around about the possibility of reverting to BM as the medium of instruction for Math and Science. After spending RM3.2 billion on this project since 2003, it may head for the annals of history, another one of those programmes the gahmen would like to forget. The outcome of the decision whether to continue or not depends on the UPSR result at the end of this year. After 5 years and so much investment... it boils down to this!

The programme has been fraught with hasty planning and poor execution right from the start. Personally, I think it is good to raise the competency level of English since its importance cannot be denied. But being in a 'kampung' environment has also made me realise the uphill task that we face. I think majority of the teachers understand the need for this policy and are willing to try. But understanding and willingness to try alone cannot ensure the success. Competency of the language is another reason. And our political masters who seem to be backtracking each time their political survival is threatened is another major factor.

Of the RM3.2 billion, more than RM2 billion was used for ICT. The teachers and students benefited somewhat but the sheer amount of wastage is incredible. Equipment is fixed up in classrooms and allowed to collect dust. Eventually, they are written off. In a particular project, lower secondary classrooms were fixed with this system made up of a switchboard, speakers, projector and a power regulator. Many of these facilities have not even been used at all and they are laying to waste. And not much thought were put into where to fix them. The power regulator above is fixed on the floor. And you know how dusty and dirty a classroom floor can be. And many schools do nothing to ensure that they are maintained too. In a couple more years, many of these components will become scrap metal.

Perhaps instead of fixing up these 'useless' facilities, the money could have been better spent by giving grants to all teachers (instead of just the English, Math & Science) once every 5 years to buy a computer. Teachers deserve that. Right now a big percentage of the allocation does not seem to be well spent. I guess the people who make the most money out of this are the companies who won the tenders for supplying the equipment. But this is only what I perceive. Maintenance units should be set up in every school to ensure that the investment that has been made does not go to waste. You cannot expect the teachers to do this because their main job is to teach. Right now, teachers wear too many hats.

And by giving grants to teachers, this will also break the monopoly of the companies given the tenders...I think the price they quote often is preposterously high. Some may say because it involves the software costs but I think this can be solved by moving towards Linux based system or something along that line. Creative solutions are possible if we put our minds to it wholeheartedly and we do it sincerely. And by giving it (grants for computers) to the teachers, the cost of maintenance for hardware would be reduced quite a lot too. This sort of empowering would reduce the administrators workload by quite a bit as well....

It's also not practical to fix projectors in every classroom...not in our present state of school environment. One must remember that classrooms are not like lecture rooms or halls in higher institutions. There're issues of security as well as dust. Classrooms are generally too open...we cannot afford to provide air-conditioning for all the classrooms, can we? So, perhaps we should come up with a national blueprint (or something like that) for the setting up of resource rooms, standard operating procedure for schools, something like that. Anyway, not every lesson needs the use of ICT. Until we come up with something more concrete and not do things on an ad-hoc basis, the issue of wastage will continue to eat into a huge chunk of the budget...money spent but, foolishly...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The lure of the cigarette...

Was doing my work in the staff room when I noticed one of my colleagues talking to a boy...Ri. Ri is 13 years old. He is in one of my classes. I label him a wanderer cos you can be in mid-sentence of something, and he will just stand up and walk around the class....in the midst of a lesson! Sometimes I think he's a little cuckoo. Either that or he just does not have the basic manners! There are 2 more like him in class..Iz and Mi. They are quite incorrigible. Anyway, I walked over to them since he is one of my charges. The problem: he was caught smoking. And there was no denying cos he reeked of cigarette smoke.

Well, this little tyke has told me before that he is a 1-pack-a-day guy during one of our classes. My conversation with them was a discovery of sorts for me. This is my first year dealing with kids this age. Prior to this, I only had direct contact with those above 15 and by then they are usually not so chatty about their lives. The 13-year-olds are different. They are more eager to talk. Anyway, this is their story. Many of them have their first contact with cigarette at a very young age, some as young as Std 1. By the time they are in Std 5, they are your regular smoker and some of them claim they get headaches when they don't smoke.

So, how and why? First...because of friends. Peer pressure. Yup! That works every time. Without fail!! Other reasons. Cos their fathers smoke! It's a father and son thingy! Quite a number say their parents don't mind. In fact, another boy in my F5 class even said that his father smokes with him. Father-son bonding. So, why should we bug them? Some say, they just wanted to try....maybe subtle influence of the media here? And it makes them feel good, they say even though all of them agree they actually didn't like the first experience. It made them cough and there was this bitter taste. But they went back to it!

Types of smoke? Your regular Malboro, kretek and rokok daun, in that order. The last one because is it the cheapest. And to support their habit some of them have started working. So, their ability to concentrate in class is somewhat compromised. Ri? Well he said he picks rubber scraps to sell. His mom is a rubber tapper. His dad?? Put it this way, he's under rehabilitation now...forced institutionalization.

We explain to them the dangers. They know of older people who suffer from smoking related respiratory problems. They know of COAD, though not the term, yet they continue smoking. There are a few who say they are trying to quit but their friends say they are 'bluffing' cos they have seen them smoking still.

School canes them if they are caught with the cigs. But then again, students point out that the teachers also smoke! If the big boss also smokes and the students see him (even if it is outside the school), then I guess the credibility goes out of the window too!

Anyway, it is common to see students puffing away outside the school gates, be it early in the morning or right after school. The number is not few. Cigarettes company will be raking in huge profits still, for many years to come. Their customer base is already there!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Should kids who cannot cope with school stay on?

There is this Form 5 boy, I shall call him Im, whom I know quite well since he was 15. This year, he will be taking his SPM or O-Levels equivalent. After spending 11 years in the mainstream schooling system, one would expect him to be able to cope somewhat.

Well, it's not happening. He has been on a downhill slide these last 3 years. When he was 15 (Form 3), it was still possible to keep him quiet in class and make him complete his work. He was an insolent kid, even those days. But you could still reason with him and he still tried to see sense in the things that you say to him. However, he obviously was not cut out for the academic stream.

A year down the road, with the kicking in of the rebellious stage, so common among boys his age, his behaviour worsened further. He became really 'biadap' (uncouth) in class. He would sit in class, nonchalant to whatever that took place during lesson. He would show the rest of the class that he dared defy the teachers and worse still he would disrupt the lessons on purpose. And no amount of advice worked! He was too far gone! You can see from his face that he actually felt proud of his 'achievements'. And he started to gain the admiration of some of the students, usually those not so confident ones.

This year, there are 3 of them like him in the same class and the figure is set to rise. Both his followers are the quiet type of students who are not very confident of themselves. They too find it difficult to cope with their lessons and by misbehaving, they too find a form of escapism from their problems.

As for the rest of the class who want to study, they have taken things into their hands. They have started a small book and ask the teachers to record his misconduct....with the hope that when they can gather enough incriminating evidence, they can then bring them to the school authorities, hoping that action can be taken on him eventually...I guess most of them would be most happy if the school expels him. I feel sorry for them because this is truly a case of 'kerana nila setitik, rosak sebelanga susu'. Is it worth it? In trying to salvage one, we jeopardize the rest of the kids in the class.....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox Download Day!! Help set a world record

Today is download day for firefox 3... The most popular browser is now version 3. I have downloaded my copy. What about you? So click on the link below and download yours today!
Download Day - English

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

School hours...how long should it be?

Recently, where I am, quite a few schools are extending their school hours. When I was schooling, the latest I would stay back would be 1.20 p.m. These days it's common to have schools run till 3 p.m. or beyond that....up till 5 p.m. if you count extra classes. Yup these kids spend 10 hours at school!

So, what is a reasonable length of time for school hours? In our hot and humid weather, any extension beyond the 1.30 p.m. would mark the beginning of a torturous stay. Imagine the sweaty and smelly bodies...shower facilities are rare in most day schools. Remember the recent report about 1/3 of our schools still without electricity? Try sitting in a classroom in this stifling and getting hotter by the year weather. Add into this equation the growling stomachs.....many kids still come to school with RM1 to school (the recent spike in the prices of goods have not helped also). So they only eat a small portion of rice during recess. Then no more money to spend. And into the same equation add the smelly and sticky body (and clothes). You get one tired kid housed in a weary body.

On paper, the answer to the equation would look really good. Long hours with co-curricular activities thrown in, etc, etc... But in reality, we compromise on a lot of things. And in the end, achieved so much less. I think the boys are the ones who suffer from this the most. They are not as compliant and they give in to their carnal nature much faster. Girls are generally more long suffering, I guess. Hungry kids, tired bodies and weary minds...you have perfect recipe for the Mat Rempits, Ah Longs, Minah Rempit, gangsters in the making....cos it takes real determination to stay awake and focussed.

Detractors would argue that longer school hours would keep most of the kids away from trouble...but I look at it as sort of a baby sitting service. Yet statistics show increasing number of kids graduating from SPM unable to write or count still. Or that more are lacking the skills to make them competitive in this global society we live in. School is not as fun as it used to be, I feel. Too many subjects, too long hours, too many expectations.......

Monday, June 16, 2008

Best Chicken Rice in Alor Star

So where is the best chicken rice in Alor Star? Some say it's found here.Located in Jln Pegawai, it starts to draw in customers the moment it starts business, according to the proprietor, at around 9.00 a.m. if I heard correctly. It's run by a few brothers. I saw three of them there while I was there. Shop was quite packed!It was obvious that many people had already patronized the place by the time we got there for lunch cos when I asked for the chicken thigh, already 'liao'. So had to settle for whatever meat was available. My favourite....keh liao.. 8)Originally, we wanted to go to Family Kitchen to eat their chicken rice as we had not eaten there for ages. But when we got there, even though it was opening time, they said we had to wait another half an hour for the food to be ready. So, that's how we ended up in Kafe Cola. Food should be quite good considering Siah single handedly 'sapu' 2 plates of the rice!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Electro therapy...

Noticed this shop which has been operating since after the Chinese New Year. It was always busy with clients waiting outside the shop even before it opens. The first 2-3 months it was opened, more than 600 people would go there to get their therapy daily...to get their electric shocks, so called. It's free! Each session lasts for about 30 minutes. You sit on the chair with the electro pads. Many people swear that it works!
Four months along, the number of patrons have dwindled to around 300, not because the therapy is getting less popular but it seems people have been buying the units. Each one of the products cost more than 11k. Seems more than 30 units have been sold. This is a good business plan....4 months and a turnover of 350k!

What is this electro therapy? Basically, it uses electrical energy to treat. I think if the above product works, then maybe a tens (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) machine would work work just as fine....and at a fraction of the cost. I used to own one...it basically massages and stimulates the nerves. So maybe it also encourage good blood flow. It was battery operated and shaped like your regular tv remote control. All you do is stick the pads to the part of your body you want to massage...then adjust the controls and your muscles will heave and move. It's kinda weird but you feel as though you are massaged. You can get a set for less than RM300. Now compare that to the 11k electro therapy pad!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thoughts After Camp

Came back mid afternoon, after 2 nights and 2 days at Cinta Sayang Golf & Country Resort. As mentioned earlier, it's a place which we are familiar. Was told that now they are a 5-star establishment. Service seems better but facilities remain quite the same. Rooms do not truly reflect the 5-star status. Our toilet bowl almost overflowed! But Maintenance solved the problem quite fast! The pool slide was broken and could be a danger. But they were quite nice in the sense that they waived the bill for the extra bed which we asked. Breakfast was part of the package. It was ok, nothing spectacular, your regular Malaysian breakfast. Of course it's not worth the RM25 but for the ambience and experience, I'd still rate it okay. Anyway, it's not something you go for every day.
The camp came to a conclusion, I would say, on a good note....not just in a spiritual sense..but in a way, some things which needed to be looked into were brought up. Some may be a little unpleasant but in the longer run, if we are to moved on, if we are to be able to build on what has been laid, I'd say it's a move in the right direction.I also learned that in order to move forward, we have to watch out for every part of the body for if one or more is affected, then we will not be truly effective. Try imagine living without one hand for example. Life goes on but it's more difficult. I also learned that people move on with their lives....nothing new really. But some people are special. They move on too but they remain true to their calling and remain passionate and committed about their cause. This breed of people truly stand out. I am reminded of my IMYF counsellor Mrs. Tay. I truly appreciate and admire her commitment to the youth work, and how she went on years after she retired from teaching! I'm also reminded again that there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1: 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. So, as I look at the struggles in the different areas of our lives, I realize that most of us go through the same struggles, different magnitude, maybe. What makes a difference is the people who come into our lives at that point of our lives and show us God's love....help us during our troubled times and make it bearable for us. But what I find meaningful is there are people who go through and remember and they continue to pass on their compassion and understanding. Then there are those who went through....but once they are done....they move on and forget. But I am always hopeful!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Weekend Away - Day 2

Got up early today… cos of some strange ‘knocking’ sounds. Finally realized that it was probably due to the toilets being flushed, either that or people who our unit have a habit of slamming their doors early in the morning.Breakfast was not too bad. They actually had some variety. But at our age, cannot makan very much already. Had more fun talking to friends than the food, I think. Morning session was okay. Speaker is interesting. Interspersed his talk with anecdotes and stories. Had groups discussions also but it was a short one as we were running out of time.Only snag is the little children were basically quite bored as this year the organizers didn’t find it worthwhile to have a program on for them as well. I find myself disagreeing with this. Kids will be kids. Five minutes is an eternity to them. When they start pestering the parents, then parents cannot concentrate also. When our son was younger, it was really fun for him to come cos there’d be activities which the young ones really enjoyed. It’s kinda worrying that there’re fewer young children these days. Sign of aging with no ‘renewing’. But what is more worrying is that the committee feels that the children are not worth going through the trouble. This will definitely be a push factor for the younger families. We have the afternoon free… will see how this develops. This time around, no games to get everyone together under one roof. Guess most of the kids will head for the pool. That's the highlight for many of them.Well, half the kids ended up at the pool. The 'older' ones were no where to be seen. Actually throughout the afternoon, didn't see many people hanging out; guess mostly were getting their much needed rest. 8) Usually there will be a games session, usually a telematch. I guess once you come out of the room, you are more likely to stay out than go back. Even the sauna (usually very popular with the ladies) also didn't see many this time around. Guess everyone preferred the comforts of the cool room to the hot and humid weather outside.

Evening session was okay. Small kids watched cartoon and played board games while the session was on. They didn't run around this time. I supposed at night the tendency to run around is somewhat less. 8) Lives were touched. Being touched is supposed to precede change. But to make sure the change stays is another challenge altogether. Human nature.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Weekend Away - Day 1

Tis the time of the year of family camp but this year they decided to call it Alpha Weekend. So far, for as long as I can remember, our getaways have always been held in the same place. Don’t know why we don’t try different places. I think it would be kinda nice to have different venues every year.The timing also takes a lot of creative effort for many to actually just be here. It is rather tiring, having to cope with the first week of school and also Thursday being a school day also means that some kids don’t get off school until 6.30 p.m. Then there’s the issue of we’re just done with the school holidays and coming for a ‘break’ like this after one week of trying to get back into the rhythm is just too disconcerting. But most still try to make it. But I think we can take the ‘pain’ out of this if we were to hold this during the school break. Just my two sen.

This year, the place seems quite fully booked. Saw some people from one of the government agencies here. I thought government agencies are supposed to be on austerity drive. Oh well, at least the resort is getting some business. Economy still needs to move!

We have all been deposited at the far end of the resort. It’s quite a distance to the meeting place. Takes out the fun of walking back together in small groups to the rooms cos now everyone will be taking their cars. (Sigh! Some more with the harga minyak now!) Still not that desperate enough yet maybe since the early pains have not been really felt yet. Maybe we should look into requesting that everyone be put in the same block… something like that. Promote that sort of feeling of camaraderie! It’s these little things that serve as building blocks to greater things.
Room size is okay. You can put in an extra bed quite comfortably without it being too cramped. But I can see that the cleaning crew has not been very thorough in their cleaning up of the rooms. Dust behind the doors and cobwebs at the sink.

Missed tonight’s session cos we arrived late…basically tired. Caught the makan session though. Anyway, other half says we should make the best out of this since the little one is so happy to be here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Supper...with the young adults

Had supper with the young adults yesterday...actually we only 'menumpang', cos we got invited along. Lucky us! Food was great. Ah Ho makes a really mean cheese cake! My personal favourites were the homemade noodles and the mutton soup. Went really well with the garlic bread! And these girls can really eat.... why not when there is good, delicious home-cooked food? They say they have more than one stomachs, and there is this one special stomach for the dessert. Notice that all the greens are gone? Well, I told them that when that happens, it means they are getting old already. Welcome into the adult world! 8)After food, guess what they did? This is not your regular sit around thingy. Formula 1 ala-small town. These 'cars' are really fun. They are self propelled...no need battery. All you need to do is just keep twisting and turning the steering and it will move, and quite fast too! The kid and THE KID are having a race! Even I had a go but I found it difficult to manoeuvre. So much for my driving skills. My little one had loads of fun too! But she was quite adorable...went home, even though she was really tired (and it was late), she read up her BM spelling before promptly falling asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. As the night went on, everyone moved inside...more kiddy games were played. But these are not your regular games...they're quite challenging and fun too. Some of us also sat around and talked about football. How not to...it's football mania now!
When a bunch of young adults get together where small kids toys are easily available... they also enjoy playing it. Guess there will always be a kid in each one of us! Memories are made of these!